CBD smoking: pros and cons

CBD smoking pros and cons

Chances are you've seen cannabidiol (CBD) everywhere, from gummy bears from the drugstore to coffee drinks from the store. But there is reason to believe that quitting smoking CBD-rich flowers one of the most effective ways is to experience the potential benefits of CBD.

If you are curious about smoking CBD flowers and want to learn about the pros and cons, this is the guide for you. 

The difference between smoking CBD and THC

Contrary to popular belief, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD have a lot in common. They are the most common cannabinoids found in cannabis plants and both have the potential to help with anxiety. They even have the same chemical structure (the atoms are just arranged differently). The main difference between THC and CBD can be summed up in one word: high. 

CBD is often touted as non-psychoactive or with no psychoactive effects, but it is more likely to be described as non-intoxicating. And why? Even if CBD is not intoxicating, the mildly calming sensation you get after ingesting a CBD tincture is technically a psychoactive effect. Any substance that has a direct effect on the functioning of the brain is considered to be psychoactive. In contrast, THC can be intoxicating even in small doses. 

Why this is so has to do with how THC and CBD interact with the body's own endocannabinoid system (ECS). The human endocannabinoid system is made up of the cannabinoid receptors that are found all over the body. The best studied cannabinoid receptors in the body are cannabinoid 1 and cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB1 and CB2), which are located in the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and immune system. 

THC combines with the CB1 receptors in the brain to create the classic high of smoking weed, while CBD has been shown to have the opposite interaction with the CB1 receptors and act as an antagonist. When consumed along with THC, CBD appears to enhance the therapeutic and pleasurable effects of THC by minimizing unwanted side effects such as anxiety and palpitations.

Why the way you consume is important

The type of consumption plays a crucial role in how long it takes to feel the effects of CBD. Inhalation is believed to be an effective way of administering CBD because it is so quickly absorbed by the body. When CBD is smoked or vaporized, the cannabinoids get into the lungs and then into the bloodstream, from where they circulate around the body. 

While some cannabis users and patients prefer to ingest their CBD through oral administration or topical application, others have found that inhalation is the most effective way of ingesting it. And there is some scientific evidence to support this preference. 

According to Dr. Adie Rae, neuroscientist and scientific advisor to Weedmaps, the bioavailability of CBD is greater through the lungs than through the intestines. More specifically, about half of the CBD you breathe goes into your blood, but only 5% of the CBD you eat gets into your blood. " A 2017 study by Chemistry & Biodiversity confirms this, stating that while bioavailability may vary depending on the type of CBD smoking, "smoking is a quick and efficient method of delivering drugs from the lungs to the brain." 

An additional benefit is that the effects appear almost immediately after inhalation. In the case of edibles, on the other hand, it can take up to two hours for the effects to set in. 

The benefits of smoking CBD

From the new research on the potential medical benefits of CBD, there is concrete scientific evidence of its effectiveness in treating epilepsy by reducing seizures. So much so that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD-based drug for treating epilepsy in children. However, that's the only hard scientific evidence for the cannabinoid.  

Anecdotally, cannabis users have used CBD for relief from depression, anxiety, insomnia, and pain. But until several studies confirm the anecdotal benefits of CBD, and the benefits of CBD smoking in particular, that's all they are - anecdotal. 

The good news is that there is plenty of clinical evidence that CBD is safe to consume, even in large quantities. One clinical study published in 2019 in the journal CNS Drugs showed that healthy people who received 1500 mg of CBD twice a day had very few side effects, all of which were mild. For comparison, most of the CBD products on the market today contain 10 mg per serving.

The side effects of smoking CBD

Since smoke is inhaled when smoking CBD, there is a risk of developing respiratory problems. When plant material is burned, poisonous substances known as polyaromatic hydrocarbons are formed. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons are found in both tobacco and cannabis smoke, and exposure to these toxins is one of the risks of smoking weed.

Fortunately, smoking cannabis doesn't pose the same risks as smoking cigarettes. While smoking CBD flowers in excess can lead to respiratory problems (such as bronchitis or, in severe cases, COPD), no causal link has been established between smoking weed and cancer, one of the greatest risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Smoking anything, including cannabis, has potential risks. 

A Study published in the Harm Reduction Journal in 2007 examined the participants' self-reported respiratory symptoms in cigarette and cannabis users. The study found that using a vaporizer may reduce breathing difficulties in regular cannabis users who smoke.  

In addition to the possible respiratory problems that can be caused by inhaling smoke, CBD can interact with some prescription drugs so you should consult your doctor before smoking.

Hemp flowers vs. CBD-rich flowers

While they sound similar, the difference largely depends on where you can buy these products - or whether you can buy them at all. 

The hemp plant produces a wide range of cannabinoids, including THC, the intoxicating cannabinoid found in marijuana. However, hemp doesn't produce enough THC to be intoxicating when consumed. 

Although the hemp plant does not produce a significant amount of THC, it is capable of producing the non-intoxicating and medically potent CBD in high concentrations. And certain types of hemp produce flowers that are indistinguishable from the high-THC cannabis found in legal pharmacies. 

Many countries differentiate between hemp and marijuana based on the amount of THC produced. In the US, industrial hemp is defined as a Cannabis sativa L. plant that contains no more than 0,2% THC by weight. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, you can legally purchase hemp flowers online in almost every state. 

CBD-rich hemp flowers are only available from licensed pharmacies in the states where they are legal because they have a higher THC content than the limit for hemp. Although they are higher in CBD than most cannabis flowers on the legal market, they usually also contain significant amounts of THC. 

How does smoking CBD feel?

How it feels to smoke CBD depends on the product and the person consuming the CBD. For example, if you smoke a pure CBD isolate, it will likely have a different effect than a high-CBD vape pen that also contains some THC. 

While CBD doesn't make you high or intoxicating, it can provide a feeling of calm, relaxation, and well-being. Depending on the dose and person, CBD can appear sleepy, relaxed, happy, or even energetic. While there are no known serious side effects of CBD, excessive consumption can lead to drowsiness. 

In addition to feeling relaxed, some report experiencing rapid relief from swelling and pain after smoking CBD.

Frequently asked questions

Is CBD Safe to Smoke?

Although the effectiveness of CBD consumption methods needs further research, most of the evidence suggests that smoking CBD flowers does not result in poisoning. The main concern of consumers is to get unadulterated CBD and, for those who prefer to smoke, the possible long-term effects on the lungs. CBD can interact with some prescription drugs; so ask your doctor before trying it.

Can you smoke CBD oil?

CBD can be incorporated into a variety of products, including vape liquids, edibles, capsules, and CBD oil tinctures. CBD tinctures are intended for oral use only while CBD oils are intended for inhalation.

CBD vape liquid, sometimes referred to as CBD vape oil, can have different concentrations depending on state legislation. It's legal in 30 states. Another 17 states have CBD-specific laws that allow certain use or consumption.

The FDA didn't step in to regulate CBD products, but in 2018 the FDA approved the prescription use of Epidiolex, a purified form of CBD oil, to treat epilepsy.

CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp plants contains only CBD, while marijuana-derived products contain a high concentration of THC and the full range of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

Does CBD kill the high?

The answer isn't clear, but CBD has proven the ability to mitigate a THC-induced high by preventing the body from absorbing THC. Some people say that they take CBD when they are too high to reduce the effects. There is evidence that CBD actually affects the activity of the CB1 receptor, especially in the presence of THC.

So when THC and CBD work together to affect CB1 receptor activity, users tend to experience a gentler high, and it is said that the likelihood of experiencing paranoia is less than the effects that occur when they do no CBD is contained in a product. This synergistic relationship is often referred to as the "entourage effect," which explains why certain combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes appear to enhance the benefits of cannabis.

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